No one loves every book

book.loverYou don’t have to love my book, or read it. I understand completely. If you’re a writer, I hope it’s okay that I may not love your book or poem or even choose to read it. I trust somebody will, and I hope your work will find the audience it deserves.

Seldom does a book come along that everyone loves. We might be surprised if we could know what works published today will be read 50 years from now. Probably not the best-sellers. I don’t expect them to be mine. Possibly something obscure, a book that was ahead of its time. Sometimes art is like that–when it’s unique, it takes the public a long time to catch on. Or catch up.

The variety and amount of available fiction reminds me of the cereal aisle in a large supermarket, or an eight-page menu that allows each diner to have his favorite food. If we were truly hungry, we’d be grateful to eat anything. Long ago, with less choice, more hunger, and maybe a less well-developed palate, I read anything.

Since I’ve devoted so much time to writing, I’ve lost my ability to read for pleasure. I’m sad about that. Most of the time I read like an editor, either marveling at the excellence of word choices and sentence construction or wanting to rewrite the whole thing.

Today I get enthusiastic about a story only if it’s different, not a new twist in a plot I’ve read too many times. It must be well written, and I like it even better if it illuminates cultures, concepts, settings, periods, or technologies I don’t know about. I love extraordinary writing; there’s never enough of it. I like to connect emotionally with characters and their stories. I dislike some genres, even when written extremely well. I envy people who enjoy almost any story. I love finding a book that inspires me to write better.

The fact that all writers can now put their work up for sale without the backing of a publishing house has resulted in a lot of poorly-crafted books on the market. A blogger who reviews books under the name “Read 4 Fun” reported on one of these recently, under the headline “Please Do Not Publish Such Annoying Work.”  The review is kind of humorous, but I feel sorry for the author, who may have erred only in not seeking the advice of an editor. The reviewer says it could have been a good book. Maybe the writer will learn from this review and do better the next time.

Though I seem to have lost the ability to lose myself in a good book, I’ve been rewarded with hours of enjoyment (and angst) in crafting my own, and I’ve made many friends of indie authors as well as readers. I’m certain that one day our freedom to publish will result in the emergence of extraordinary products, and maybe a few of those will still be read in 50 years. Best wishes to all.

6 thoughts on “No one loves every book”

  1. You hit the nail on the head for me, Carol . I read very few books these days, unfortunately (nowehere near as many as I used to at any rate). The time I spent reading other people’s books, I now put into writing my own. Something’s gotta give…

  2. I define myself as a woman, wife, mother, and reader first of all. I have read hundreds of books a year since I learned to read at age 5, and my temple was the Grafton Public Library. Because I am always recommending books to family and friends I am occasionally asked why I don’t write. It is the reason you give above; if I wrote I might lose the thrill of reading. Also, since among the books I have read are a number of very good (or even great) books, I cannot hope to compete. Thank you for writing yours, Carol. I have read the Mountain Women series and recommended it to my daughters and nieces, all born in WV.

  3. It’s difficult for me to read a book because I read with a more critical eye and seldom do I get swept away any longer. But I do go through spurts of reading, usually between projects, and I can almost get that feeling back that I had in junior high when I’d fake sickness so I could stay home from school to finish reading a book.

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